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Martin, McLaughlin Show More Growth Against Denver
Since October, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas and head coach Ryan Saunders have stressed the 2019-20 season would be one focused on growth.
A season focused on growth isn’t always concerned with wins and losses. Rather, it’s graded based on the development of young players.
The Wolves suffered their 39th loss of the season on Sunday after losing 128-116 to Denver in the first game of a four-game road trip. But growth could be found within that loss.
It was announced on Saturday that starting point guard D’Angelo Russell would miss Sunday’s game in Denver due to scheduled rest, which meant two-way point guard Jordan McLaughlin would be promoted to the starting lineup.
Once again, McLaughlin didn’t disappoint.
McLaughlin has earned two career starts in the league and has recorded double-doubles in both. McLaughlin recorded 15 points, 10 assists and four rebounds on Sunday and made his presence known.
He shot 5-for-9 from the field, hit two of his four 3-point attempts, and is now shooting 37.7% from deep this season. He’s also boasting the fourth-best assist to turnover ratio amongst guards (5.06). Of course, you have to factor in games played and usage rate into that stat, but it’s still worth noting.
It’s becoming more and more difficult to argue that McLaughlin, the 5-foot-11 point guard, doesn’t belong in the NBA. Anyone still trying to make that argument is pretty foolish.
Two-way forward Kelan Martin also came to play on Sunday after only earning just over 16 minutes of playing time with the Wolves since Feb. 8.
Martin had an explosive, 12-point quarter in which he shot 4-for-7 from the field and 2-for-5 from deep. By the end of the first half, Martin had topped his career-high point total of 17 points by notching 19 on 7-for-12 shooting before the break.
KELAN CAN'T BE STOPPED pic.twitter.com/bcxuTzh6bh
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) February 24, 2020
Martin didn’t hit a field goal in the second half but finished the game with a career-high and team-high 21 points and added four rebounds, which helped keep the Wolves in the game in the first half when forward Juancho Hernangomez and center Naz Reid were both in foul trouble.
With only 16 wins to date, the Wolves have had to rely on playing with heart when out-matched or undermanned. Regardless of their status in the league, McLaughlin and Martin have continued to show they belong in the NBA. That’s about all anyone can ask of them in a season where growth has been the Wolves’ top priority.